When glaucoma stole Walter Blackmon’s eyesight at 5 years old, it also stole some of his dreams.
That day, he was at his babysitter’s house, sitting at a table and drawing cartoons from the newspaper. Then he heard the woman’s chickens outside in the backyard.
He ran over to watch them, but his vision kept blurring. The chickens suddenly looked hazy. Elusive images flitted about the yard. At first, his babysitter didn’t believe him; when he told her he couldn’t see, she thought Blackmon was being a trickster, playing a bad joke. He pleaded and pleaded and finally started to cry.
That was the start of when he lost his vision.
As a kid, Blackmon yearned to play in the National Football League, to enlist in the military, be a Marine, to be a champion basketball player.
But his life took a detour. He had to relinquish those dreams and replace them with new ones.
And those childhood dreams of athletic prowess? He found other avenues in which his lack of sight was more hindrance than a roadblock. In high school — Blackmon started at Leon High then transferred to Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine — he ran track, wrestled and later power lifted in competitions. In 2006, he won a world record in powerlifting at an International Blind Sports Federation competition. Lifting, playing sports lets him “give my all, and leave it there.”
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.